City Analysis: Mesa, Arizona

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Mesa: Overview

The city of Mesa, Arizona, has an estimated population of 508,958, with about 144,544 between the ages of 15 and 34. The city will hold elections for the office of the mayor as well as city council districts 1, 2, and 3 in 2020.

Population

  • From the last population census in 2010, there were 439,041 people in Mesa. The city's current estimated population is 508,958.
  • Based on data from sources such as the US Census, Data USA, and the City of Mesa Office of Economic Development, there are no population estimates for the age range 18-35. However, as of 2018, 28.4% of the population was between the ages of 15 and 34.
  • Based on the current estimated total population of 508,958, there are about 144,544 (28.4% * 508,958) people in Mesa between the ages of 15 and 34.

City Elections in 2020

Neighborhoods

  • Downtown Mesa, the city's innovation district, has many museums, galleries, music venues, restaurants, entertainment attractions, and hosts the Mesa Music Festival, Arizona's premier emerging artist festival, which draws industry experts and musicians from around the world.
  • There are over 19,800 daytime employees in Downtown Mesa, with 3,200 residents, and about 2.5 million people visit the district annually to do business, shop, play, and learn.
  • Northeast Mesa is the most upscale neighborhood in the city, with various golf communities and custom home enclaves, as well as some more affordable areas.
  • Southeast Mesa, on the other hand, is a growing neighborhood that is pulling new homebuyers and businesses. This neighborhood is home to the ASU Polytechnic campus, which draws a younger population and millennials as well as families and retirees.

City ID Card

  • There is no indication that the city of Mesa uses a municipal ID card. There is no mention of a city ID card in any of the city's communications regarding ID cards such as this. According to an article that shows cities with municipal ID cards, no city in Arizona uses them.
  • The city's vision benefit plan, Vision Plan, does not require or issue ID cards. However, members can print their personalized ID cards through the program's website.

Question to City Leaders

  • Do you plan to launch a municipal ID card program?
Part
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Part
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Mesa: Business Community

Initiatives promoting small businesses in Mesa, Arizona, are the Downtown Small Business Attraction Utility Rate Program, the City of Mesa Business Export Assistance Program, and LaunchPoint. The local merchant associations in Mesa are the Mesa Office of Economic Development, Downtown Mesa Association, Mesa Chamber of Commerce, and the West Mesa Community Development Corporation. The City of Mesa has partnerships with Benedictine University and Arizona State University.

Small Business Initiatives

1. Downtown Small Business Attraction Utility Rate Program

  • An incentive promoting small businesses in Mesa is the Downtown Small Business Attraction Utility Rate Program.
  • The program "offers a 25% reduction in energy and water bills for three years for new businesses that fit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business."
  • To be eligible, "[b]usinesses must apply for the program within their first year of operation."
  • The program has been running since July 1, 2017.

2. City of Mesa Business Export Assistance Program

  • An initiative promoting small businesses in Mesa is the City of Mesa Business Export Assistance Program.
  • The program's goal "is to provide small to medium-sized businesses in Mesa [with] information, training, and marketing support that will help them to: Begin, or increase, exporting products and/or services to international markets[;] Increase sales capacity and generate additional tax revenue to the City[; and] [e]xpand operations and increase the company’s ability to create net new jobs and capital investment. "
  • The City of Mesa benefits from the program "through the creation of an export savvy core of small to medium-sized businesses . . . [and by] help[ing to] elevate the City by creating more opportunity for company expansions in sales, employment, investment, and real estate at home and abroad."

3. LaunchPoint

  • LaunchPoint is an initiative promoting small businesses in Mesa.
  • LaunchPoint is described by the City of Mesa as follows: "LaunchPoint, the Mesa Technology Accelerator, is a unique place for entrepreneurs and small companies that provides flexible space, business development assistance, and networking and training opportunities. It is a place to help companies launch and accelerate to create new jobs and capital investment in the community. "
  • Through its Downtown Mesa location, "LaunchPoint offers connectivity and access to the Greater Phoenix entrepreneurial community and proximity to higher education resources . . . ."

Local Merchant Associations

Partnerships

1. Benedictine University

  • The City of Mesa has a partnership with Benedictine University.
  • The following is a description provided about the partnership: "New students at the Benedictine University at Mesa campus may be eligible for the Mesa Partnership Scholarship to help with tuition costs. The partnership is a result of a joint effort to provide higher education opportunities to the greater East Valley. The $3,000 annual scholarship is for dependents of City of Mesa employees . . . [and] is renewable if students maintain good academic standing."

2. Arizona State University

  • The City of Mesa has a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU).
  • As a result of the partnership, construction is underway at ASU for the development of a building called the "Mesa City Center, a state-of-the-art project that will jump-start the revitalization of downtown Mesa and train students in one of the biggest industries in the United States: media production. "
  • Spring 2022 is the estimated open date for the building, which will rise three stories.
  • The budget for construction of the building is $73.5 million, of which the City of Mesa will pay $63.5 million and ASU will pay $10 million (though ASU is also paying interior construction costs in the amount of $10 million).
  • The costs for maintenance and operations of the building each year are expected to total $1.3 million, which will be paid by ASU.

RFPs

  • The City of Mesa published 580 bids on its website that it has awarded.
  • Since we couldn't individually review each of those bids and there was no way to filter the bids by dollar amount, we individually reviewed the bids included on the first page. In so doing, the lowest RFP amount we found on that page that the City of Mesa had awarded was $25,000.
  • That was the only applicable information we found in terms of the lowest RFP amount the City of Mesa publishes, after reviewing its website.

Question For City Leaders

  • The Marketing & Business Development Manager at the City of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development, Kim Lofgreen, was recently quoted in an article discussing the new arrival of the company CAVU Aerospace in Mesa as stating the following: "CAVU Aerospace coming to Mesa will bring more attention to the Mesa Gateway area as a prime location for aerospace companies. It shows our region has the assets, labor force, supply chain, customer base, and business-friendly environment that are necessary for aerospace companies to be successful." Are there current plans underway to attract small businesses in the aerospace industry to Mesa and if so, what are they?
Part
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Part
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Mesa: Issues and Challenges

Lack of affordable housing and poor air quality are some key issues and challenges being tackled by the leaders in the city of Mesa, Arizona. These and other findings are outlined below.

Lack of Affordable Housing

  • One challenge faced by the city of Mesa is the lack of affordable housing. A big percentage of the population in Mesa is low income and in need of low-cost housing. The city leaders are increasingly tackling the issue of housing affordability to also be able to accommodate new residents coming into the city.
  • According to population projections, the city needs "an average of nearly 2,700 new housing units per year for the next decade to accommodate new residents." This is a target that can be met with proper planning as records show that the city of Mesa issued "2,000 permits just for single-family homes in 2016."
  • According to Zillow, the median value of homes in Mesa is $272,546, which went "up 7.6% over the past year and is predicted to rise 5.2% within the next year." The median rent is $1,385 a month, lower than the metro-area median of $1,545. Although the median rent is lower than the metro-area median, it is expected that many Mesa residents will continue to struggle to afford housing due to underlying economic conditions and household incomes that are lagging.
  • According to East Valley Tribune, over 81,000 residents, more than 17.2% of the Mesa's population, were living in poverty. Mesa also has low numbers of residents with college degrees and workers in higher-paying industries, compared to its neighboring cities. Mesa also "had a higher percentage of renter-occupied units of 41.6%, than neighboring cities, with more than a fifth of the city’s single-family homes occupied by renters."
  • Mesa is working to address its economic problems by attracting high-end employers and attracting universities to the city, which has led to continual growth in upscale housing options. With the private sector meeting housing needs for executives and middle-income employees, the city government is left to fill the housing gaps for low-income workers.
  • The Mesa city government is also working with nonprofits and using federal grants to build a housing safety net. The city government has used federal tax credits to finance housing projects with subsidized lower rents such as the La Mesita apartments and downtown senior housing. Mesa is also using innovative zoning patterns to try to solve the affordable housing challenge.
  • To increase housing opportunities in Mesa, the city government provides those who are homeless with application fees and assistance to pay utilities. Mesa also gives incentives to landlords so that they can assist housing assistance participants.
  • The major stakeholders involved in tackling the challenge of the affordability of housing in Mesa include city leaders, landlords, the private sector, nonprofits, along with city real estate developers.
  • The City of Mesa’s Public Housing Authority works with residents and landlords to administer several rental assistance programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher program.

A Question to City Leaders

  • What is the city doing to boost the household income levels of the Mesa population living in poverty to help them be able to access affordable housing?


Poor Air Quality

  • Leaders in the city of Mesa are tackling the challenge of air pollution, especially dust pollution. This has affected the quality of air in the city. According to the city's website, carbon monoxide levels are problematic during cooler months, while the ozone continues to cause problems in warmer months.
  • In 2019, the Fitness Index evaluated the 100 largest cities in America using indicators such as health behavior and air quality. Mesa ranked among the 10 worst cities for air quality. The city and all the others that were evaluated "average just 62% of the year with good air quality."
  • Air pollution is a big problem for residents in Mesa. The American Lung Association ranks Mesa city among the most polluted cities in the United States. In the State of the Air City Rankings, Mesa city has been ranked as the seventh most polluted city by ozone and the 13th most polluted city by short-term particle pollution.
  • The issue is important to the community because when the dust is inhaled, it forces the lungs and heart to work harder to circulate oxygen throughout the body. This can reduce people's ability to breathe and damage their hearts. This is especially serious in old people, those with underlying respiratory issues, and children.
  • According to Quartz, many health problems, such as lung cancer, asthma, developmental delays in children, and premature deaths, are linked to ozone pollution, such as the one in the city of Mesa.
  • Leaders in the city of Mesa have taken measures to reduce dust pollution. This includes identifying and enforcing control measures in locations that are known to contribute to pollution. The city also provides information to residents on how to protect themselves and minimize the problem. This includes information such as not parking or driving on unpaved roads unless it is very necessary and not blowing dirt into the streets.
  • The city leaders also enforce a "No Burn Day" that bans residents from wood-burning activity, such as fireplaces or open outdoor fires, for 24 hours, when the forecast suggests "air quality will approach or exceed the federal health standard." The ban stops residents from adding pollution to the air when the conditions are already bad.
  • The City of Mesa has also enacted a law that requires construction sites and others involved in dust-generating work, such as road works, to take care not to pollute the air.
  • The major stakeholders involved in tackling the challenge of air pollution in Mesa include city leaders, city inspectors, residents, construction companies, and the Maricopa County Air Quality Department. Mesa city works with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department to enforce the dust pollution control measures.
  • The city of Mesa sends city inspectors to investigate pollution reports from Mesa residents and works with building site developers and owners to fix any issues that have been identified.

A Question to City Leaders

  • The American Lung Association has ranked Mesa city as the seventh most polluted city by ozone and the 13th most polluted city by short-term particle pollution. What measures have you put in place to solve the problem?



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